Love Africa Press is going to publish my story Her Golden Eyes (I suck at titles so this is a working title! I’m kinda hoping the editors will be able to find a catchier one!) This press is a digital publisher with the aim of promoting and spreading stories about Africa and African characters with a love of the continent. There is an amazing article with them here. It lays out the mission statement and attitude of the women running the press and I am beyond honoured that my story will be part of this press.
This would not have happened without The Pink Heart Society and #UKRomChat and is a real testament to how putting work in and being willing to help people out and be yourself can go a long, long way.
This story was the third medieval romance I wrote. The first was lady and knight, very safe, and the second was a pirate prince set on the Isle of Mann. The advice I was given by Harlequin was to write something no one else could, and since I had been whining about the lack of medieval African romances, I leapt into another of the regions my online RP had lightly stepped into and Sabbah and Tison happened. I am so excited to share them with people and to have the chance – if nothing else – to work with an editor and improve my craft.
Once I discovered the #OwnVoices movement I was very worried that I was submitting and being one of those authors who sensationalises other races and cultures. Huge props to Ahmad Fathy, who beta’d the book for me and gave the greatest compliment I could have received, that I had “perfectly captured the conservative Arabic man in love“. He also, as a fantasy reader primarily, got a little sick of being told how hot and muscled Sabbah is. Bless him for sticking with it, and for always encouraging me to believe in the book. Without him I would never have had the courage to send Kiru Taye the story when she asked about it during UKRomChat.
I am going to put up links to Love Africa Press and I really recommend you check them out. You can get a lot of the books through Kindle at the least. I LOVE Kiru Taye’s books especially so this is like someone from Delta Rae tapped me on the shoulder and said “You sing really well!” or something.
This is still sinking in and I am still occasionally texting my best friend and saying OH MY GODS, KIRU TAYE LIKES MY BOOK! let alone the fact I am actually contracted to be published next year.
I have a list going of people who book blog. Preference will be given to medieval and African/Afro-Caribbean bloggers but if you will be interested in my medieval Marrakech romance for your blog or booktube, please let me know! I will get ten copies to give away and only one is earmarked for definite so far!
If I have any advice to offer in the “how did you get published” vein, it’s write your fanfic, write your RPs, be yourself on social media, and if someone asks for help GIVE IT! I was so nervous about becoming a Content Editor for Pink Heart Society and I still have months where my executive dysfunction just says NOPE! CAN’T! TOO SIMILAR TO BAD TIME IN LIFE! which is also why I can’t use facebook. I did not know why UKRomChat would want to talk to ME and why on earth would anyone pay attention when there are legit authors either side of me. If I hadn’t been talking about past writing, I would not have been picked up by Kiru Taye.
Oh, and do your research. I have read books on medieval islam, west african empires and tradition, the trade routes, the political stuff… I have researched birds and insects and vermin… you need to know when foods were introduced along the silk road and the Saharan trade routes… You need the terminology. You need to know the difference between slavery in medieval Arabic Africa and the devastating evil of slavery in the 15th to 19th centuries. You need to respect that just because you don’t believe something, your character does! I have a Christian and a Muslim character and I’m a brythonic pagan witch who practices energy magic, for pete’s sake. Don’t be one of those people writing about Sheikhs as just exotic dukes with harems. It is so cringey that those are still published, and I know that it’s bad to cast shade but… you know…
It’s 2019, people…